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Old 5th Aug 2010, 00:16   #1
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Uni's Server & Network Project! [Update 05-06-14 - Cisco Meraki Installed]

Hey everyone. I'm fast running out of space on my home file server, and it's time for an upgrade so I'd like some help and advice as I'm not entirely sure about some aspects of it. My setup at the moment is as follows:

Started life as a Dell Dimension 4600. I kept the stock case as it was a closet server, but "ventilated" it a little more. Changed the bearing-less (badly worn) 92mm CPU/exhaust fan for a new silverstone 92mm fan, and also added another 92mm intake fan at the front after removing the meshed area in front of the two vertical hard drive cages. That was the cooling sorted.

Next step: add more storage. The motherboard only has two SATA ports and two IDE ports, so my options were limited. I opted for a couple of trayless Icybox 5.25 SATA backplane/hot swap bays and a pair of 1TB WD Caviar Green drives to go in them. I also changed the stock 80GB IDE drive to a 160GB Hitachi IDE, and added a second IDE, a 250GB Western Digital. Storage sorta sorted.

I have a lot of other SATA drives that I can put in the hot swap bays (although they're not actually connected to a hot-swap controller) for additional removable storage, but they're all full now as well. I have a 1TB Western Digital Mybook attached to the server via USB as removable storage too. A while ago I started to worry about the temperatures of the drives in my closet, so a few days ago I gutted the machine and mounted it in a custom Antec 300 that I had spare. The 6 bays at the front of the 300 are now full (2x 1TB WDs, 2x IDE drives and the two from the gutted WD Mybook external are now mounted internally, but still connected via USB, internally).

So, to summarize, it's:

Dell Dimension 4600 motherboard
Intel P4 2.26GHz
2GB DDR memory
2x 1TB WD Caviar Greens
2x IDE drives, one as system disk (160GB & 250GB)
1TB WD Mybook, mounted internally
Antec 300 case
2x Icybox 5.25" hot swap bays (currently empty)
500W Nexus "NX5000" PSU

And I also have (all full)

1x 3.5" SATA 320GB WD Caviar Blue
1x 3.5" SATA 74GB WD Raptor
1x 3.5" SATA 80GB Hitachi Deskstar
1x 2.5" SATA 160GB Seagate
1x 2.5" SATA 160GB Hitachi Travelstar
1x 2.5" SATA 160GB WD Scorpio Black

Now, the main problems with this setup at the moment are 1) Everything is full or almost full, and I still need more storage and 2) There is no data redundancy i.e. none or at least very little of some 4+ TB of data is backed up anywhere, which as you can imagine is a massive problem. Solution? Upgrades!

MOTHERBOARD - Here's what I have to base the new server around - a Biostar Tpower I45 with 6 SATA channels, a choice of either a 1.8GHz Intel Celeron or a 2.8GHz Intel C2D E7400 and any amount of DDR2 RAM. That's all I have at the moment. What I would like to achieve with this server by the end of the year (it's not something I want to spend a lot of money on at once, more an incremental upgrade) is have those components in the machine with a better PSU, more storage attached and data redundancy. Here's how I see it, please correct me if any of this sounds wrong:

PSU - needs to be upgraded purely because the Nexus has no modular cables, and I need modular to keep the cabling situation under control. I'm an expert wiring loom designer and builder, so I'll put a 450W Corsair HX PSU in with a custom loom and tidy the whole thing up. Every component and drive gets power and you barely know the cables are there.

CPU - The 1.8GHz Celery should do the trick, but I'm not 100% sure on this. At the moment, the 2.26GHz P4 pushes up to 16GB bluray files to my i7 machines no problem, and this is a necessity, so if the Celeron can't hack it, It'll have to be changed.

STORAGE - The storage is where I'm really muddled on this one at the moment. I obviously need a RAID card, but I have no idea which one, what interface it should use or what drives I should attach to it. I have 4TB+ of data, so I need at least 5TB of usable storage space, and using 1TB drives, that's a lot of drives. Maybe I should go for 2TB drives in the main array like the guy who built "Black Dwarf" did? These drives would be mounted in the front of the 300, right behind the 2x 120mm fan mounts. I'd also really like to have a hot spare in this main array, if possible? I said main array there, because I want to use the two 1TB WD drives that I currently have, attached to the motherboards SATA controller with an additional two identical drives, in RAID 0 as a 4TB backup array. I want to convert the three 5.25" drive bays in the Antec 300 to hot-swap bays, with a Rackmax 5-drive cage. Four of these would be used by the backup array (4x 1TB drives) and one would be the hot spare from the main array, probably a 2TB drive. I'll use the 74GB raptor as the system disk.

SOFTWARE - Another query I have. XP has been working fine for this server to date. Everything is globally shared across the network, with my own workstations having read/write access to everything on the server, and it's remotely accessed by VNC Enterprise or LogMeIn when I'm out. Would anyone recommend anything else? Would I have any reason to change to WHS when it's only a file server? Since getting rebuilt and since the work on my workshop at home has come along a little bit lately, I've moved it down there, out of my closet. It wasn't that it was bothering me because it was very quiet, but with the new network in the WS and it being cooler down there, I thought it'd be a better place for it to live.

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions you have about this. The main priority question at the moment is what card and drives to use for the main array.

[edit]

GRAPHICS - I forgot to add, another benefit of or reason for using the Biostar I45 motherboard is that I'll be able to put the two spare 8800GT cards in there and use this as an occasional folding machine as well, probably only a handful of units a week, but everything helps. The machine is going to be on 24/7 so I may as well put it to more good uses than one

[04-04-11 UPDATE - It's a Project!]

I've changed the title of the thread to reflect what this actually is now, a project as opposed to me just asking for some advice. I thought I may as well, because it needs done both for my business and my personal needs. I knew that the current network and server setup that I've been using wouldn't last long (in other words my needs outgrew it's capabilities really quickly) so I'm going to crack on with planning the overhaul and start it when I can afford to (both time and money wise). Thanks for everyone's input so far, especially Pookeyhead and Zoon who have been a big help in making this all make sense in my head

[08-04-11 UPDATE - The Plan So Far]


Much of this is still subject to change although hopefully none of it actually will, because it's fairly solid if you ask me The server will be based around a S1156 Gigabyte H55M-USB3 motherboard with an Intel Core i3 540 CPU and 4GB of low power OCZ Reaper 1066 MHz memory. The CPU may be under clocked to increase energy efficiency, although it remains to be seen how the machine performs in general and any such tweaks will be made after real world testing has been performed.

The storage will be handled by an enterprise class Highpoint RocketRaid 3530LF RAID controller, which is capable of handling up to 12 drives of 2TB capacity and above. Attached to that controller will be 6x (six) 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green drives, which will be mounted in the six 3.5" bays of the Antec Three Hundred, behind the front intake fans. These six drives will complete the primary array in a RAID 5 configuration, totalling just under 10TB of usable storage capacity. Also attached to the card will be another six 2TB drives, in this case 2TB Samsung SpinPoint F4EG drives, five of which will be mounted in an Icy Box IB-555SSK backplane/hot swap enclosure which is installed in the Antec Three Hundred's 3x 5.25" drive bays, and one which will be mounted on the remaining space of the motherboard tray. These six discs will be configured in another single partition RAID5 array and will serve as an entire backup of the primary array. The backup will be performed incrementally on a daily basis, at an off peak time when usage is at a minimum.

The systems boot disk will be a 160GB Western Digital Scorpio Black drive, with an additional 30GB of flash storage provided by an OCZ SSD, which may or may not be used as fast access data cache. The server will be connected to the new network using a dual port HP NC360T NIC, allowing two aggregated 1GbE links to the entire network for increased data transfer speed and multi tasking performance. The server will be powered by a 650W Corsair HX series PSU with custom wiring looms to power both six drive arrays and the boot drive & SSD.

I am still working on the server design, and am attempting to implement a Matrix Orbital LCD and keypad to monitor network traffic, storage capacity, array health and other data as this is a headless server.

The home network will be upgraded from the current Cat5e cabling to S/FTP Cat6a to match the data cabling recently installed in the workshop, including the addition of some rooms which were not previously networked. Routing and wireless access will be handled by a custom Linksys WRT320N running the DD-WRT firmware. Two Gigabit Dell PowerEdge 5324 (24 port) managed switches will handle all network connections and security will be handled by a Cisco PIX506E firewall. Exact network structure including VLANs and aggregated interconnects to follow.
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Last edited by Unicorn; 5th Jun 2014 at 17:45. Reason: Updated
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 13:59   #2
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Crikey that text needs some line breaks dude

I'd recommend your C2D chip mainly due to the increased Cache over the Celeron, and I wouldn't be surprised if the C2D actually runs cooler on the same or even less energy consumption. And you could always underclock it slightly anyway.

If redundancy is your goal, then RAID5 with a hot spare HDD is probably the way to go.

IMO you can't go wrong with Adaptec controllers, and you may even wanna consider an internal-mounted external-accessible drive bay, like this http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/acatalog/info_3918.html or this http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/acatalog/info_3817.html

This 3ware branded controller came up in my brief search http://www.ebuyer.com/product/124452 and this adaptec too http://www.ebuyer.com/product/231209

I'd say put in 2TB disks from the get go and here's a RAID calculator to help you understand capacities http://www.ibeast.com/content/tools/...c/RaidCalc.asp

In RAID5, 4x2tb +1hot spare would get you 6TB (note I didn't dig into the controllers above to confirm support of hotspare or how many drives total they can take).

Regarding OS ... meh. What works, works. There's several Linux distros that act as a software NAS, including a couple of good ones based on FreeBSD.
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 16:16   #3
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Sorry, I forget sometimes I use a 28" widescreen monitor, so it's not too bad as I see it I've edited it now

Thanks for the info so far!
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 16:35   #4
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For drive upgrades, the 1.5TB Samsung F2s are 55 on Scan's Today Only.

Antec's 550W Basiq Plus PSU is only 48 there, too. If those 8800GTs are 6-pin, it'll power them without any issue.
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 17:43   #5
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I don't like Samsung drives mate, too many reliability issues :/ Also I use pretty much nothing but Corsair PSUs in the 400-700W range now, primarily because they are awesome and also because I have all but perfected making custom ribbon looms just like the stock ones, only better, with the connectors the right way round for where the PSU is located in the case (in relation to the drives and other devices) and routed through each case properly.

So, what do you think? Tag one of these on there along with two more 1TB WD cav greens (forgot about them when doing this price list) and that's it sorted

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Old 5th Aug 2010, 21:57   #6
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I'd say that's quite expensive for a RAID card to serve two low-power/low-speed disks. Even 6 low-speed disks to be fair.

Have a look at some of the LSI models - you should be able to get an 8-port model that does SATA/SAS 6g with RAID 0/1/10 that's more than man enough, incredibly well-supported and does the business for less than the Highpoint.
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 22:48   #7
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You're probably right, on Scan they seem to jump from 4 port to 12 port, and none of the good 12 port ones are even in stock. What sort of price are we talking for a decent 8 port, hot-spare supporting card then? About 300, maybe a little less? I'd like to be able to upgrade the array in the future you see, so having a 12 port card wouldn't be a bad thing. I'll chew through 6TB in no time
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 22:51   #8
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CPU - The 1.8GHz Celery should do the trick, but I'm not 100% sure on this. At the moment, the 2.26GHz P4 pushes up to 16GB bluray files to my i7 machines no problem, and this is a necessity, so if the Celeron can't hack it, It'll have to be changed.

If you're using a RAID card the Celery will be fine. I have mine underclocked at 1GHz... no problems.
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 22:55   #9
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What is data redundancy somebody? I keep hearing this mentioned lol
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 23:02   #10
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If you're using a RAID card the Celery will be fine. I have mine underclocked at 1GHz... no problems.
Thanks for dropping in Pook. I was hoping to hear from you on this as I followed your few threads at the time you built your home file server. Do you handle high capacity files/streaming over your network? Like I said, I stream TV and movies from this server all the time. Am I right in believing it's more to do with the CPU in the workstation that's pulling the data down rather than the one that's pushing it? Like I said, my 2.2GHz P4 is doing fine so the celery should be as well. I might just underclock it as well, to save a little more power.

aLtikal, redundancy is when the data is stored in a way that ensures there is some fault tolerance, so in the event of disk failure the lost data can be saved. There's more info on this here.
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 23:27   #11
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Yeah I stream high bitrate 1080p while doing back ups etc... The CPU usage never goes above 30% or so. The RAID card is doing most of the work.

The only time it gets sluggish is when it's backing up it's own boot drive.. but I schedule that at stupid o'clock so no problems. So long as the files are going to and from the RAID via the RAID card, the celery can cope very well.

You are correct, the weakest link will probably be the PC on the receiving end.


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What is data redundancy somebody? I keep hearing this mentioned lol

It's a system that either mirrors the contents of a drive to another one, or spreads the data over multiple drives and uses a dedicated drive for parity information so it can rebuild data should a drive fail.

basically, it means that if a drive fails, you will be able to carry on while you replace it with no data loss.

Redundancy is NOT back up however. It will not protect you from accidental deletion or viruses.

See this Wiki link for more info.

Depending on the method uses, there can be speed increases as well as a bonus.
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Old 5th Aug 2010, 23:55   #12
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Just responding to the comments about cheaper controllers; be careful picking as cheaper cards (eg under 150) don't tend to support RAID5. From this point down they tend to be varying levels of software-offload and support RAID0/1/10 only.

The more expensive controllers, such as the Highpoint you picked, have a dedicated CPU on it for parity calculations etc, which is required for RAID5. Your celeron wouldn't handle the amount of offload a cheaper card would put on it, even if there were software-offload RAID5 products around (AFAIK they're all dedicated cpus).
Quote:
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It's a system that either mirrors the contents of a drive to another one, or spreads the data over multiple drives and uses a dedicated drive for parity information so it can rebuild data should a drive fail.

basically, it means that if a drive fails, you will be able to carry on while you replace it with no data loss.

Redundancy is NOT back up however. It will not protect you from accidental deletion or viruses.

See this Wiki link for more info.

Depending on the method uses, there can be speed increases as well as a bonus.
+1, redundancy is not a replacement for backup. Redundancy allows your PC to keep on working should the other HDD fail, backup allows you to restore data in the event of a loss.

If the file is corrupted, deleted, virus infected, or overwritten, the RAID controller mirrors the action, not having the application-awareness that it would be bad to do so - the kind of overhead for that, on a mechanical disk, would be impossible. Might be possible with SSDs in the future I guess.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 00:08   #13
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Quote:
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The more expensive controllers, such as the Highpoint you picked, have a dedicated CPU on it for parity calculations etc, which is required for RAID5. Your celeron wouldn't keep up with that, even if there were software-offload RAID5 products around (AFAIK they're all dedicated cpus).
+1 - redundancy is not a replacement for backup. Redundancy allows your PC to keep on working should the other HDD fail, backup allows you to restore data in the event of a loss.
Are you saying that the Celeron WOULD or WOULDN'T be adequate for the job with a hardware RAID card?

I have a LSI Hardware RAID card with a dedicated CPU on board, and my server has a underclocked Celeron.. it copes admirably with RAID5 and is capable of saturating my LAN with with transfers to and from the RAID5 array. Off the network large transfers can write at over 200MB/sec with as little as 20% CPU usage. Even being whacked by myself and my wife with massive back ups and 1080p streaming, and shifting large image files around all at the same time, it never gets bogged down and the Celery remains at 30% or less. The Celeron is running at 1GHz @ 0.9V, and under such stress the entire server is drawing under 80 watts from the mains.

Celerys rock for home file servers so long as you offload the parity calculations to a decent hardware RAID card.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 00:11   #14
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So what you're saying is that because I'm going for a better controller, I should use a faster CPU Zoon? I don't really understand this, would you mind explaining it a little more? I'd have thought if the CPU on the card is doing all the parity calculations, the host machines CPU will only be pushing data over the network, which Pook says works fine with a Celeron.

As far as backup vs redundancy - isn't there some level of data security with Raid 5? I thought if a single disk failed in a R5 setup, you could replace it on the fly (provided the controller supports hotswap) and the array would rebuild the data from the faulty disk. Is this not the case? It's not that bad though, as I'm going to have a 4TB backup array anyway. Although I'd feel better if that were elsewhere, not in the same machine. Hmm. I might need to invest in a third array in the form of a NAS in the future and keep it in a different part of the house.

[edit]

Ninja'd by Pook on the question regarding the controller CPU and host CPU Pook, is your Celery a dual or single core mate? I can't remember from your thread off hand.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 00:14   #15
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So what you're saying is that because I'm going for a better controller, I should use a faster CPU Zoon?
Yeah, that baffled me too.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 00:15   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
As far as backup vs redundancy - isn't there some level of data security with Raid 5? I thought if a single disk failed in a R5 setup, you could replace it on the fly (provided the controller supports hotswap) and the array would rebuild the data from the faulty disk. Is this not the case? It's not that bad though, as I'm going to have a 4TB backup array anyway. Although I'd feel better if that were elsewhere, not in the same machine. Hmm. I might need to invest in a third array in the form of a NAS in the future and keep it in a different part of the house.

[edit]

Ninja'd by Pook on the question regarding the controller CPU and host CPU Pook, is your Celery a dual or single core mate? I can't remember from your thread off hand.
It's a Dual core.. specs in my sig (Earth).

As for back up vs. redundancy, you are correct... disk fails... RAID limps along at reduced rate... insert new disk... it rebuilds on the fly. This isn't back up though... if you delete a file accidentally... it's deleted... no way back.


[EDIT]

Accidental dual post... sorry.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 00:36   #17
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Sorry, I didn't see that you had it spec'd in your sig! Mine is the same chip, I actually confused the specs of it in my post above with another Celeron (430) that I have
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 00:54   #18
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With a proper hardware raid card, the Celery will do all you ask of it. A "software" RAID card will bring it to it's knees however.

It runs really cool with the stock cooler, even at stock speeds, but if you under clock it to the levels I have, it hardly gets higher than ambient temp, and it would be possible to passively cool it for silence should you wish.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 02:32   #19
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Noise shouldn't be a problem as it's going to be located in the workshop beside the rest of the servers and folding machines, but that's good to know anyway. Less heat equals more efficiency
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 07:08   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
So what you're saying is that because I'm going for a better controller, I should use a faster CPU Zoon? I don't really understand this, would you mind explaining it a little more? I'd have thought if the CPU on the card is doing all the parity calculations, the host machines CPU will only be pushing data over the network, which Pook says works fine with a Celeron.
Apologies for the mixup in the language, it was late, and I was tired. I was trying to say that the cpu on a RAID5 card won't need the better CPU, as it doesn't offload. I'll edit in a second to clear that up!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicorn View Post
As far as backup vs redundancy - isn't there some level of data security with Raid 5? I thought if a single disk failed in a R5 setup, you could replace it on the fly (provided the controller supports hotswap) and the array would rebuild the data from the faulty disk. Is this not the case? It's not that bad though, as I'm going to have a 4TB backup array anyway. Although I'd feel better if that were elsewhere, not in the same machine. Hmm. I might need to invest in a third array in the form of a NAS in the future and keep it in a different part of the house.
RAID5 is a bigger more efficient form of RAID1 essentially, with the addition of a hot-spare option. Again, apologies for the inclarity of my words! Of my last sentence the following is the most important bit I said:
Quote:
Redundancy allows your PC to keep on working should the other HDD fail, backup allows you to restore data in the event of a loss.
You're already aware of this given you're having a backup NAS somewhere
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